Monthly Archives: September 2012

CNN Belief Blog

By Ashley Fantz, CNN

(CNN) — Restrictions on religion spiked throughout the world between mid-2009 and 2010, including in the United States, says a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.

The U.S. was among 16 countries, including Switzerland, where hostilities jumped during that time period. Pew examined 197 countries, assigning a score between from zero to 10.

Zero represents the least restrictive and 10 the most. There are two categories — governmentally restrictive and socially restrictive.

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CNN Belief Blog

From Erinn Cawthon, CNN

New York (CNN) — A controversial advertisement that critics say is hateful toward Muslims will appear in New York City subway stations starting next week, despite the city’s attempts to halt the campaign.

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority initially rejected the ad, which reads: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

The authority’s decision was overturned last month when a federal judge ruled that the ad is protected speech under the First Amendment.

Jihad — Arabic for “struggle” — is considered a religious duty for Muslims, although there are peaceful and violent interpretations of what it means.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative, which produced the ad, has been fighting to place the message in New York’s subway system since last year after the authority refused to display it.

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CNN Belief Blog

By Ben Brumfield and Shirzad Bozorgmehr, CNN

Tehran, Iran (CNN) — They may be a far cry from their Western counterparts fighting for the acceptance to breast feed — or go topless — in public, but two girls clobbered a cleric recently in a small town in Iran, when he admonished one of them to cover herself more completely.

The cleric said he asked “politely,” but the girl’s angry reaction and some pugilistic double-teaming with her friend landed the holy man in the hospital, according to an account in the semi-official Mehr News Agency.

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CNN Belief Blog

(CNN)–Joel Osteen stopped by to talk on Tuesday night with Piers Morgan about negative campaigns and attack ads.  You can see the clip above.

You can also see the Belief Blog interview with Osteen, the pastor of the biggest church in the US here:

Five things we learned from Joel Osteen’s visit

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CNN Belief Blog

By Jim Bittermann, Pierre Meilhan and Holly Yan, CNN

Paris (CNN) — After a week of deadly, international protests against an anti-Islam film, a French satirical magazine is fueling the debate between freedom of expression and offensive provocation.

The magazine Charlie Hebdo published cartoons featuring a figure resembling the Prophet Mohammed in an issue hitting newsstands Wednesday.

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CNN Belief Blog

Editor’s Note: Brian D. McLaren  is author of “Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World” (Jericho Books/Hachette Book Group). 

By Brian McLaren, Special to CNN

I was raised as an evangelical Christian in America, and any discussion of Christian-Jewish-Muslim relations around the world must include the phenomenon of American Islamophobia, for which large sectors of evangelical Christianity in America serve as a greenhouse.

At a time when U.S. embassies are being attacked and when people are getting killed over an offensive, adolescent and puerile film targeting Islam — beyond pathetic in its tawdriness – we must begin to own up to the reality of evangelical Islamaphobia.

Many of my own relatives receive and forward pious-sounding and alarm-bell-ringing e-mails that trumpet (IN LOTS OF CAPITAL LETTERS WITH EXCLAMATION POINTS!) the evils of Islam, that call their fellow…

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CNN Belief Blog

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – At campaign events these days, Mitt Romney often says that if he is elected president, he will emphasize the role of God in American society and will not “take God out of the public square.”

That kind of rhetoric is a departure from earlier less God-focused versions of the Republican candidate’s stump speech and his early apprehension with discussing his Mormon faith.

According to Mark DeMoss, Romney’s adviser to the evangelical community, such lines are designed to create a contrast with a Democratic Party that had to fight to get God into its platform at its recent convention.

“I will not take God out of my heart, I will not take God out of the public square, and I will not take it out of the platform of my party,” Romney has been saying in his stump speech since the Democratic platform…

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CNN Belief Blog

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) — The deaths of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans amid protests against a film that denigrates Islam has sparked global discussion and debate  about whether there is a line between free speech and hate speech and, if so, where it lies.

“They don’t regard perceived insults to the Prophet Mohammed or the Quran as being protected by free speech, they regard it as a capital offense,” says Peter Bergen, CNN’s national security analyst, referring to protesters in Libya and Egypt, where the U.S. Embassy was attacked, who were angered by the film.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the movie was made by a real estate developer who wanted to portray Islam as a hateful religion.  The attack on the U.S. personnel in Benghazi, Libya, was orchestrated by extremists who used the protests as a diversion, U.S. sources told CNN…

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CNN Belief Blog

Editor’s note: David Van Biema, the chief religion writer at Time Magazine for ten years, is author of the illustrated biography “Mother Teresa: The Life and Works of a Modern Saint,” now being reissued and made available in Spanish as “La Madre Teresa: La Vida y las obras de una santa moderna.”

By David Van Biema, Special to CNN

Fifteen years may be less than an instant in celestial time, but here on earth it’s a lot of news cycles.

Mother Teresa departed this Earth on September 5, 1997. What more can we say about the woman who became synonymous with love for the “poorest of the poor,” picking up a Nobel and tweaking the conscience of millions? What do we know about her now that we didn’t know then?

A lot, it turns out.

Here’s a quick Blessed Mother Teresa primer, emphasizing the stuff that…

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